Friday, December 7, 2018

Saying things

I'm not gonna preface this. So much has happened, and I can maybe get to talking more about it if I can get myself up off the floor, so to speak.

I'm writing from a place where all the good things in my life lately got started. Incidentally, this place I'm in is very cold, like it was when everything started. At the time, it was winter, just like it is now, and colder than I'd been used to in a long time, which...though now a metaphor, is also true. Right now, this place feels cold and empty, even though it's that same place I found warm and homey before.

A lot changes because you look at it differently. A lot of people and how they are in your head is the labels you apply to them. At least sometimes. I feel like I always have to defend myself, and explain that that's not actually always true, because terrible things just happen to people and people can legitimately be horrible and awful. And that while I think that the answer for me is crawling out of the hole I've somehow not realized how deep I'd been digging, spade in my own damn hand when i thought I was laying foundation instead, that doesn't mean that people don't find themselves in holes they didn't make, or holes they legitimately can't just climb out of.

The problem is pretty words and dreams. All your pretty words fall flat if there's no reality behind them. All your pretty dreams, flower petals and soft glow of candlelight and precious moments staged just so--it's all a facade unless there's more than that moment and that  dream.

We all say we want better, but when do we do better? We say we hate the way things are, but are we out there actively railing or changing it? We say we see monsters, but we don't look in the mirror and see when we're the monster ourselves.

We say it's cold and dark and we're afraid, but why are we then running from the warm and light of our loved ones? Why are we pushing them away?

The house is dirty, the chores aren't done, the work is piling up. We're buried underneath it. Are we? Or are we, again, the ones holding the shovel flaccidly in our own hands unwilling to pick it up and dig out?

But no one taught us to dig, right? We don't know how. The answers seem hard. It feels like digging will break us, tear our flesh from our bones, make us different and worse. It feels like we were perfectly fine without digging, thank you, and would rather not make our muscles ache and our body wear down right now. We'd rather rest.

We're lost, but we simply couldn't stop to ask for help.

Now, we're just lost and treading water, because what are you going to do if you'll never admit you need someone to show you the way? And when you've also turned away from the light and warm, then how do you find anyone to show you how to dig, now that you've realized you're just an idiot who didn't want to get dirt on their pretty little sweater and their brand new boots.

The thing about screwups is admitting that you screwed up isn't enough. Maybe for two seconds it makes you feel like you did something, but really...then what.
Just because you didn't mean to hurt anyone doesn't mean you didn't.
Just because you have good intentions doesn't mean you haven't overstepped your boundaries.
Just because you wanted to help doesn't mean that you did.
Just because you wished it would be different doesn't change it.

We are men of action, lies do not become us. It's a great line from a great movie, and an even greater book, whose author actually did something, and told a beautiful story, and worked hard.

It's time to dig.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Twitter Folk Post

It's me.
I am, and have been, in the Minneapolis area for a few days. I drove up Tuesday afternoon, arriving in the evening. It was unplanned and for an unpleasant reason, but things are stable enough now that I'm going to talk about it. It's not on Facebook because my grandma is on Facebook and I don't want to worry her with it, so let's keep it that way, if you will, my friends reading this (and family.)

Grandma was in the hospital after a fall or two, with some complications keeping her in until this afternoon from Monday. Obviously, it was a bit stressful for all of us. My mom and my aunt both live up here, but as my aunt was already stressed from hospital visits with other family members and as my grandma has literally not been in the hospital for any length of time in all my years on Earth, it was a bit jarring. (Add to this she's 93.)

So here I am. Supporting family is a funny thing, and obviously, since my grandma literally was my second parent for a lot of my life, I had a very strong desire to come up here and see her and make sure she's okay. I used to live with her (and my mom) for years, too, so even just having her in Minnesota while I'm in Illinois was an adjustment, and not being able to just pop over or pop downstairs to visit her. She's also a huge role model for me, and someone who literally took care of me whenever my mom couldn't when I was a kid, and taught me quite a lot herself.

She's currently out of the hospital, has no idea what all the fuss is about, and is over in a place that should help her with PT and ensure she doesn't end up back in the hospital again, but it's weird for us. I would normally not be talking about it here but at the moment here is the only real place I've got to talk about it.

There are certainly scarier situations that could have happened, and at times I feel like I've overworried or overstayed, but my goal was to see her settled and not in the hospital and knowing she's surrounded by her family and can count on them. We've pretty much accomplished that, though my heart really wants to go over there tomorrow before I go home and see how her first night was. It might seem silly but I feel like I'd feel better leaving that way. I'm also beating back some regret over how little time I've spent with her since the move, and how little I've communicated with her directly. Some of it's hard because she struggles with phone calls and stuff, but I feel like I could have done more. You never know what kind of time you're going to have with someone, and I feel like I don't want to waste any more of it.

I feel a lot of ways tonight, including a little bit alone. I feel like part of me overreacted and part of me didn't react enough. I feel like things are fine but I am also very worried. I feel like I didn't do enough for my aunt and mom perhaps. I feel like I left people at home in the lurch.I feel the pressure of work stuff and I feel aggravation at work stuff, and I feel tired and I feel gross.

In case you wondered how I'm feeling. If you didn't and you've read this far, well, now you know anyway. I don't exactly know what to say. I want to be home, cuddled and with the cats and the fiance, and feeling less scared and alone, but part of me just wants to stay forever and visit grandma every day until she's out of rehab and back at home. That's probably selfish, and it's probably making up for time I could've spent with her prior to this that I didn't do as much as I could have with, but here we are.

Grandma looks to be fine, her stubbornness and determination to do her thing keeping her upright and confused as to why she was even in the hospital in the first place. Though it's frustrating for everyone that she can't do what she'd like to, I'm hoping that this PT will help her be strong enough to not feel too out of control but realize that there's nothing wrong with getting a little help, especially after a long life well lived. Grandma's pretty amazing, and pretty able to kick back from these things without hardly a blink, so...that's what we expect she'll do.

I have been trying and failing to relax and get ready for the six hour drive home tomorrow, and wavering between giving up entirely at being stable and locking down hard core. And that's the honest truth. I have no idea the havoc i've wreaked in the process of processing, but I guess all we can do is wait til morning to tell that, eh?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Queer Eye for Every Guy (And Girl...and Everyone, Really)

group hug mama tammye GIF by Queer Eye

It'd be hard not to notice that things are kind of distressing in the world lately. And divisive. And hateful. And...well, not great. If you haven't noticed that, you might need to get out more. Or read more. Or y' more active in the human race.

Anyway...I've been feeling it hard core lately. There was the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, someone I greatly respected and looked up to as a writer and humanitarian, and then the Hardwick thing, and of course the myriad things that make me feel ambivalent about the upcoming holiday. I don't know if I was looking for something to uplift, but I definitely found it. I watched the original Queer Eye when I was younger even though at the time, I couldn't fully appreciate everything about it (something I'm sad to admit.)

So it was obvious to me to watch the revival, though I wasn't sure if I'd like it. Turns out, I think it might be the good news antidote I've been looking for, even if I didn't know it.

Here's the thing. This is something I believe. It's something I believe strongly, and I choose to believe even when it's hard. I believe love wins every.single.time, if you can only find it. That's true in my own relationships and everywhere else. If you can find it, if you can do it, love will win. The problem is finding it and putting it out there even when you're not sure you're going to get it back. least to me, is what I've been seeing when I've been watching Queer Eye. People who are different from each other trying to understand each other, and help each other be the best version of themselves they can be. And yeah, it's not a groundbreaking television concept, but it does seem different and more genuine somehow. I feel like they're pretty real about who they are and the hurts and hangups they have.

Just started Season 2, going in thought it'd be good, but not much else. If you haven't seen Season 2 episode 1, I implore you to go seek it out. It's on Netflix and it's the antidote to lots of things, and for me, kinda tapped into the anger I have inside me about certain things.

It's all about a church lady the boys are helping out. She's love. She's everything southern hospitality and all sorts of sweetness and light. She's not sitting there sending thoughts and prayers, she's literally being the hands and feet and hugs and feeding and providing for people. And her son is gay. And she, being raised in the church, was not okay with that, at least not at first. And then, her son left. And she prayed. And she thought, and she realized that she was wrong, because love always does win.

Interestingly enough, one of the guys (Eyes?), Bobby, wasn't really having the whole situation. What you come to find out is that he was raised in the church (Like she was, like I was, like lots of people were...) and that when he realized he was gay, he used to agonize and pray at the altars for God to take it away. And then he got outed, and then he lost every last person who cared about him. Because love? Because God is Love? Because ...because why?

And the anger in his eyes was palpable when he told the story, and the pain. He wouldn't step foot in another church because his world was taken away from him based on people believing who he was was a sin.

And you could pooh-pooh that away, maybe, and I could, except that that's just how it is so often. The more I look back at the way things were in that environment, the more I see just how much it was like that. And to be honest, I still have that fear. There are people I love and respect that I went to church with growing up. They were influential to me, and loving. And yet...And yet I hesitated to post in disagreement. And yet I hesitated to come out strongly for what I believe in.

I've seen people lose their "status" and the love and attention of their friends and fellow church  members because someone in their family committed a crime. Because someone was an alcoholic, or had bulimia/anorexia. Or lose their leadership position because their son got an earring. I've gotten gossiped about both behind and in front of my back (yeah I know, but bear with me) because I ran into someone I knew from church (in the past, no less) and I had a bottle of wine in my cart, or was having a drink at TGI Friday's. I've been told to stay out of the church because I was wearing a tie-dye shirt with a peace sign on it (broken upside down cross don'tcha know.) Some of the most prominent members of churches I used to be a part of can only think to ask about the juicy bits of gossip about the families I know who have problems instead of even pretending to feign interest in their actual lives. There are pastors out there who smile and hug and say How's your day and before you answer say good, even if you're standing there with tears streaming down your face.

That's where the root of my anger at the church comes from. That and the complete lack of even a basic bit of concern for what's happening politically beyond hearing the words cross his lips that he's in support of the Christian right. Pussy grabbing, moved on her like a bitch. Russia. Immigrants and asylum seekers and their children. Suffer the children unto me. God is Love. Love Wins. Where is the love? How are you in support of a regime like this, and that's exactly what it is?

How are you laughing heartily along with the rhetoric out there? How do you care about children in the womb but not a mite outside of it. How do you so ignorantly assume that everyone who's not the same color as you is criminal or illegal or nefarious or infestation. How do you want it both ways, where your sins are just fine and forgiveness is available but you won't even let someone who you believe is sinning into your house or your church. How can you not reach out to those who are hurting or scared, and just talk about them behind their backs?

Is "telling it like it is" all you can muster?

I don't have a problem with God. I do have a problem with the church. And I'm angry. And I too, feel left behind and betrayed by them, and I too am wondering where the love is, and how it got this far...

But at least, when I'm watching shows like Queer Eye and I see someone like that woman, who DOES things and cares about people regardless of if they're purple, black or white or gay or straight or immigrants or....then I know that it's still there. Somewhere. It gives me hope that love wins anyway, regardless of if it's left the places you'd expect it should be most. Love wins if you find it and if you share it, and so that's what I'm going to do.

I'm angry, but I feel like it's time to be angry. And, believe it or not, because of a little tv show, I'm hopeful...that we ALL, regardless of race, sex, creed, orientation...can find the love again and let it win.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Bottom Line

So. Yesterday was a real peach of a day, wasn't it? There's always something terrible in the news--on the daily, has been for ages, even before our administration was run by a giant sycophantic, get the idea.

However, today was something different. Today was me finding out that someone I thought was one way was VERY much another. It'll be no surprise that I'm a giant nerd. I always have been, I suppose, even, as the hipsters say, when it wasn't cool. I don't want to be one of those people who disavow knowledge or claim that they always knew something that, to be honest, you just can't always know.

Here's the thing. I've listened to the Nerdist podcast from the very beginning, and up til recently wouldn't miss an episode. I rooted for all the guys, and was happy to see them getting the chance to live their dreams. I believed, through having heard them talk through the years, that they weren't perfect but were pretty silly, cool guys who just enjoyed the things they enjoyed and worked hard to get where they were. This includes Chris Hardwick.

Evidently, as you'll now no doubt have seems that's a very wrong impression. Seems like Hardwick has, in fact, been very different in his relationships than the person that he portrays in public, and that he's in fact abusive in very many ways, ways that harmed someone else I was a fan of just via "internet" and "celebrity" and whatnot.

The reason I'm writing this is because I feel like there's things that need to be said.
To me, this revelation is a huge deal.

For one, let's be honest about the internet and podcasting and all that. If you listen to a podcast long enough, you get to know the voices. Especially with podcasts like Nerdist, because they talk a lot about their personal lives, moreso than someone like Ira Glass over on NPR and stuff, you feel like you know them a little bit. Especially if you've been there since the beginning. For me this isn't exclusive to Nerdist, as I also followed the Pioneer Woman since she was just a little food blogger from OK (how the hell did that blow up to as big an empire as it is, btw?) Obviously I have eclectic taste in people and things. Anyway...the internet and social media create a different kind of intimacy level than TV and stuff have in the past, because in some cases, you'll actually interact with these people. In my case, I wrote about these people--Chris Hardwick, Matt Mira, Jonah Ray, all. I always knew I didn't know them as people in any "real" way, but to find out that one of them is SO far from the person they portray is jarring at the very least, and very disheartening.

Second--you can't "call" it, and it's not a point of pride if somehow you "called" it. The thing is that Chloe herself didn't call it, and to assume that you would have known better is worse than arrogance. Maybe you thought he was obnoxious or a jerk. Lots of people thought that. People I am friends with thought that. You "calling" it just doesn't matter, in the end, because it doesn't change the fact that the person who got very, very hurt is any less hurt.

I guess one thing that gets me whenever stuff like this happens is how much people think that they know. That they were sure that this person was like this. It's bullshit.

The truth is, so many people walk around with a smile, giggle, laugh and go out like they've got no single care in the world who are literally on the edge. They're literally being eaten alive, crushed by depression, anxiety, abused or just feel hopeless and alone, but they'll be the life of the party, the confidante you can trust to help you with your own problems, or that person that seems totally together and unflappable. Thinking you know is not knowing.

At the same time, that guy you think is funny, sweet, and on the right side of things, who cares about things like women's rights and children and animals and wouldn't hurt a single thing on earth could just as easily literally be darker than you could ever dream, and could've greeted you with a smile every day, even been the most helpful, wonderful person to you. I don't talk about this much because it used to embarass me, but when I was a manager at a pizza place, I worked with a guy we'll call Ted who was helpful, super efficient at what he did, always had a smile and a joke for me, helped me through some of the most stressful situations I faced at that job....and, a year after I quit that job, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend by stuffing her in the trunk of his car and leaving her to die in the desert heat after a domestic dispute. It was shocking. I literally had no idea he was capable of even being slightly dickish, let alone taking someone's life. I was and still am embarrassed somehow that I didn't know. How could I not have seen that sort of evil, you know? How would I not have known, having worked alongside him every day?

People are going to be demanding to know why Jonah and Lydia and Matt didn't know, why Wil Wheaton didn't know...and it's awful. Being a total scumbag hurts more than just you, and his actions are going to have wide repercussions for them, whether they knew or didn't know. That makes me really sad, too.

I'm older and wiser now, I suppose, but I can tell you. You just.can't. know.all.the.time.

Read Chloe's words. She didn't know. And even when she thought she did, he had her coming back with moments of compassion.

Don't self-congratulate because you think you knew something. You know nothing, in the end, about what's happening with and to the people around you unless you care enough to reach out and ask them. The most important thing you can do in situations like these, when you find out that things aren't what you thought they were, even if it's a "celebrity" and it doesn't touch your life, is to start to realize how much you don't know instead of insisting on how much you do.

And that's all I've got to say about that.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Talk Soup

I confess something here: I have no idea what this will be. For one, our AC is broken and it's been in the 90s all day. For two, I'm pretty sure I have come down with a holiday weekend flu or cold that's making me pretty miserable. For three, last night was ...a thing I'm not talking about right now.

The first thing that occurred to me to type out was that I'm trying to figure out what parts of me are parts that really exist and what are parts that others assigned to me or I assigned to myself that aren't real. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but whatever. My space my rules.

Space seems like the best option for me right now. I'm feeling more like crawling in a shell than I have in a while. To think, to re-evaluate, to straighten out my priorities and try to do something more, something better.

One thing you'll learn the older you get is that your perception of yourself can be and is often wrong. Not that it's a good idea to let other people tell you who and what you are, but sometimes, they show you. It's not always pretty.

I need to "apply myself" more and one way to start doing that is here. Because applying myself doesn't just mean make more of an effort in my relationships and my job, it means everywhere, including with me.

I'm vaguebooking without the Facebook, but...again, that's how I want to do it right now.

And that's all for now. I've realized I don't have much else to say. Watch this space? Maybe more will come out of me, and that'll be a good thing.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Chicagoist Post

What? You thought I wouldn't blog about Chicagoist meeting a sudden demise at the hands of billionaires with a toddler's "take-your-toys-and-go-home" mentality?

No chance.

Chicagoist was and is a big deal to me. I was there. I was a part of it and what IT was was truly one of Chicago's best. And a community, and a place where I learned a lot from a lot of people. Honestly, it seemed unbelievable most of the time that I was a part of it. I read Chicagoist every day at work- started off with the Around Town gallery they'd post around my lunchtime every day. I still remember when one of the pictures I submitted got in. I was so excited! Then came a resolve to do more things I'd always meant to do, which led to GISHWHES, which I didn't expect to change my life but did. As I've mentioned before, once you're emailing the CEO of Groupon to ask him to send a video of himself doing the Single Ladies dance in his suit for our scavenger hunt, it's not as intimidating to throw your hat in the ring to be an A&E writer.

Jim and Chuck gave me a chance. My first two stories (the testers, if you will) were The Happy Show and Jazzin' at the Shedd. These events happened while I had a really good friend of mine (and a hell of an encouraging presence) in from New Mexico for a visit, so I got to take him with me on these adventures. One of the things I love about this job is that it allows me to bring people along for the ride. I've seen so many amazing things while writing for Chicagoist, and I've gotten to share them with the people I love.


These are things I love to do and wanted to do and got to take some of my best friends to, to boot. It was ways I could take my boyfriend, who is awesome and deserving of such things, to shows on dates that I never could've pulled off either. I mean, we met Weird Al! I was so starstruck that night at the back of the Chicago Theatre I couldn't make sentences happen.

I still remember my very first story. An easy to get to one for a cub Chicagoista - it was at Union Station - a "happening" called Station to Station. I wasn't sure how to dress for a "happening" let alone to blend in with all the press, and I was a huge nerd about being on the press list. I constantly checked my bag for pens and camera batteries and wondered what obvious things I would inevitably be missing or what faux pas I would stumble into as soon as I got there.

I'm sure being a nerd about being on the press list counts as one of those faux pas, but I couldn't have cared less. I saw Thurston Moore unplug when the stage lost power. I explored smoky yurts and ate artisanal sandwiches and watched people make things. And in one of my favorite moments of all time for Chicagoist, I heard Mavis Staples' voice ring out through the entire Great Hall at Union Station. The show was like being at her house on a Sunday in its intimacy, but that voice let loose in that hall with those acoustics were life-changing.

In fact, all of Chicagoist was. I still get imposter syndrome, both for being a writer at Chicagoist and a "writer" at all. I take on projects and do work and wonder when someone will find out I'm not supposed to be where I am. I'm lucky. I'm lucky to have worked the stories I worked. I'm lucky to have been able to call Chicagoist's staff my friends. I'm lucky to have gotten to explore all the things I've explored.

I've been on the roof of the Art Institute, the basement of the Field Museum, the floor for the nerdiest of conventions in Chicago each year. I've heard amazing music, met amazing people and learned from fantastic journalists.

I've gotten to go see what Chicago has to offer, photograph it, write about it and then share it with tons of people, in hopes that they'll find some good stuff, too. Hopefully somewhere in there I've written things that will help people some way - whether that's simply getting to know some of the neat places and faces Chicago has to offer or just having some nerd to relate to.

Above all though, Chicagoist helped me.
I found what I love.
I do the things I love.
It's still work and it always will be.
I have LOTS more work to do.
I've made mistakes, but I've learned from them, too.

It's been an incredible ride, and I'm sad to see it go. Chicagoist was an opportunity, sure, but it also truly was a community, one I loved with all my heart.

I'm grateful to everyone I've ever raised a glass with, shared a GIF or emailed with, and especially grateful to Jim and Chuck who gave me my shot, and Lisa and Rachel who helped me and Chicagoist grow after that, even into things like hard news. You.all.rock.

The world would be stupid not to snatch every last one of you up for something amazing, and I can't wait to see what that is.

Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We Grew This

Turns out, Chicago is a busy month for journalists and journalistas. Hence my lateness to this post, which I've actually been looking forward to for a few days now. But you know, as a friend says, #amwriting #amediting. Tis the thing we strive for.

So, you say, what's the thing you were waiting to blog about?

It's my fourth anniversary with my love. <3 nbsp="" p="">Four years, man. It's a long time. The foundation was laid long long before that, in a friendship we kept up for yearrrrs, but now it's a bigger, better thing.

I was looking for an image to represent what I wanted to say about this, and I landed on this rose. It's from our own garden, from this year. We had these roses in the yard, they were planted long before I was here, and they just weren't blooming. Couldn't figure out what the problem was, tried pruning them the one year and nothing, took them to the Master Gardeners at the county ag any case, two years in, they finally bloomed. Gorgeously, and they were incredibly prolific. I could not believe how beautiful. And we grew that. Trial and error and doubt and all.

And that' it works in a relationship. Sometimes you cut too deep, sometimes you don't address things you need to. Sometimes you do a lot of work and it doesn't seem to get you anywhere. But you keep working at it and you grow something. And that thing can be incredible.

The beautiful parts of us are some of my favorite things on Earth. It sounds like nothing, but one of my dreams was to have someone who'd eat ice cream in bed with me while we watched some silly show. And we do that.

I hoped for someone who would cook with me. We cook together ALL the time. We make a hobby out of it every single week with 52 Weeks of Cooking and that was the lens I used to talk about us last year at a live event.

We nerd out together. We mangle and strangle the English language so badly together that sometimes I think it's only the two of us who could understand a word we're saying sometimes. Just for fun. We write together, game together, watch the Cubs together, and have a HUGE list of nerdy shows we are huge fans of.

He brought me into the world of Star Trek, and especially when times are so dark...Star Trek gives me hope. It makes me feel like there's this beautiful way we can all exist together if we keep trying for it. The characters and worlds there are gold, and I love that we share it, and I love how it's still sorta "ultra" nerdy in that way where people are like "oh you're a TREKKIE?" because I love how proud we stand together when we say "yeah! Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra!" and wait for the sneers. I love how we can be ourselves together because it's us against the world and being weird together is powerful.We don't have anything to prove.

I love our trips together. I love the relaxation and intimacy of our time in Door County- we got snowed in this last time and it was some of my favorite travel ever, even though we didn't leave our hotel at all that day. We cook while we're there too, and play board games and watch movies and eat cheese and drink wine. We locked ourselves in the Mall of America for his birthday this year.

I love watching him. He's like this over-easy egg of sunshine. It spills right out of him when you take the time to get to know him and talk to him and you see the big beautiful heart, the hearty laugh, the nerdy core and the generosity and kindness just flow out like a river. I love watching people's faces change when he cracks a smile. I love going on walks with him or to the grocery store and holding his hand or knowing that we can make even that fun.

It's not all easy. We spend so much time together by virtue of working at home together that, honestly, we drive each other nuts sometimes. There's internal pressures and household stresses and the regular "uncovering all each other's bullshit" that gets to us. There's the ways that a person you love shows you the worst parts of yourself. But there's ways we show each other the best in ourselves too.

All I need to know sometimes is that I never fall asleep faster than when he's there. When he's not, I can't turn my head off. I know that when I'm not with him, I'm already planning what I'll call or text him, and what he might have liked. I've probably taken pictures of something I wanted to see, and probably saved something I wanted to buy for him in a folder on the internet somewhere (don't peek if you read this.) I'm probably planning all the adventures I want us to have in the future somewhere in the back of my head.

Life gets to me. This  house gets to me. Sometimes, we get to each other. But I've learned so much trying to grow this. Life has a way of showing me how much I haven't learned too, but the bottom line is, we grew this. Four years in, I hope it just keeps growing and going strong.

And hey, you, who's busily reviewing games behind me...I love you. <3 p="">